February is dental health month, and we encourage daily brushing and flossing, plus dental checkups. If you do have a cavity and are anxious about being numbed, here is a different way to think about it.
It is a luxury to not feel pain from dental treatment. Not all people have the option! For instance, Dr. Andrews was temporarily assigned to a tent city in Cuba in 1994 for three months, as an Air Force dentist.
The mission was dental and medical support for Cubans that were housed in a camp for refugees. They had been picked up at sea, on their way to Florida, escaping the communist government. 30,000 Cubans had to wait for processing. The dental clinic (in a tent) served about 35 Cuban patients daily, doing mostly extractions. The majority of teeth extracted were very badly decayed. Some were only roots, since the crown of the tooth rotted away! This had taken months or years of neglecting.
How had this happened in a communist country, where everything was “free” including medical and dental care? The shocking answer was, the local anesthetic was not included for free! Most people could not pay the extra fee. Subjects in communist countries earn very little money.
When word got out that the Americans numb before treatment, our patients went from desperately seeking relief through extracting teeth, to people requesting fillings for their cavities. To them, getting an injection was a relief.
Thankfully, we live in a great time and place where we can prevent pain!